Natural-gas pipeline group Energy Transfer Equity will take over its rival Southern Union Co. for an estimated $5.7 billion in cash, after the two agreed to a deal that ends an effort by Williams Cos. to acquire the gas transport and storage company. Southern Union maintains a 15,000-mile network of pipelines covering the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. It also has some natural gas distribution businesses for residential, commercial, and industrial customers.
Energy Transfer Equity is a partnership that owns numerous energy assets, notably Energy Transfer Partners, which maintains pipeline operations in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah and West Virginia, and the largest intrastate pipeline system in Texas. Its current natural gas operations include more than 17,500 miles of pipelines, treating and processing stations, and storage facilities.
The deal is based on a cash-and-stock offer that values Southern Union at $44.25/share, and including new debt the takeover is worth a total of $9.4 billion.
At the suggestion that the deal may risk anti-trust restrictions because of its size and the similarity of the two portfolios, Energy Transfer has said it will sell some businesses in order to gain regulatory approval for the deal. It indicated hopes to seal the merger by the end of Q1 2012.
Already it has agreed to sell Southern Union's 50% share in Citrus Corp., which owns the Florida Gas Transmission pipeline system, to its Energy Transfer Partners LP subsidiary.
Directors of both companies have endorsed the merger, and Energy Transfer holds commitments for about 14% of Southern Union’s outstanding shares.